Whether we have spent one year or ten years in Ithaca, the weather certainly never fails to surprise us. Not only does the forecast typically vary dramatically from week to week, but also from day to day and from hour to hour! We can literally experience all four seasons in one day—without exaggeration.


When you wake up for your 8:40, it may be snowing, foggy, and below 30 degrees. By the time you leave the library at 3:30 that same day, it may quite possibly be 60 degrees and sunny, fooling you into springtime. How do you dress to prepare for both? What makes you ready to face a semester’s worth of weather in the span of 12 hours?


Ithaca’s weather teaches us to be flexible in every possible time frame.

Each day, you might check your weather app in the morning, but understand that it’s probably inaccurate. For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s supposed to be a high of 56 degrees in February. If you are leaving your dorm in the morning, don’t forget to wear your winter coat and winter hat—you’ll need it for the low of 23. Ithaca teaches us to wear layers, bring extra clothing, and carry two different jackets at times. If you don’t want to be too hot or too cold, you have to be prepared for anything.


In the span of one week, you may see a blizzard, haze, sun, and rain. Ithaca teaches us to always plan for the case of rain or inclement weather, regardless of the season. If you have an outdoor event, be sure to either have a rain date or a rain location. Do not automatically assume that your early May barbeque will have pleasant weather, or that just because it’s the middle of February you won’t see a summery day. Plan for various types of weather so that you are prepared for an immediate switch, and do not get too caught up in the particular setting.


In the span of one month during one semester, you certainly may need your bathing suit for gorge jumping as well as your Canada Goose for skiing. Try not to take home too many clothes over breaks because you never know what the Ithaca weather will throw your way. Even if you have to keep half of your clothes in a bag under your bed, better safe than sorry. Winters can be relatively mild or colder than you ever could have imagined; you won’t know what level of coat you will need until the day begins.


One last thing: never leave your dorm without an umbrella. Parts of Ithaca’s unpredictable charm are the surprise rain showers and thunderstorms that often occur. You may enter a lecture hall with the sun shining, and leave pulling up your jacket hood. No matter what the forecast is for the day, you won’t regret throwing that safety net at the bottom of your bag.